When our only son died unexpectedly, though grief-stricken, I was comforted by the knowledge that he was with his Saviour whom he had loved and served.
How do we keep our own faith? It is a life-long process: we first accept Jesus Christ as our Saviour, asking forgiveness for our sins which he bore on the cross, and then, as we are not angels, we sin again and must ask God to forgive us again -which he always does for we are his children. Then the question arises, how do we endeavour to pass on this faith? Almost from birth we should take our children to church on Sundays, we should say grace at our meals, we should try to live Godly lives and bear this in mind when disciplining them. One of my daughters used to say to a naughty child, “We must have a serious talk!” and my son used to say, “If anyone wants to be my children’s boy or girl friend, he or she must come to church with us and join in our Bible study at home.”
On my maternal side, my grandfather married my grandmother in a Baptist Chapel in Wales, so he would have known “the way, the truth, and the life”. From poverty, working in the mills from the age of 13, he became a wealthy businessman and emigrated with most of his family to South Africa. He became a prominent Free Mason and built a church, which still stands in a location, “for the pursuit of other forms of Christianity.” My poor grandad! There are no other forms of Christianity! He died the week I was born. By the grace of God, my mother, his youngest child, became a life-long Christian. There are others in my family, though not in full-time Christian service, like those mentioned below, who keep the faith by attending church, and serving one another and others as our Lord taught us to do. Most Christians fall into this category, and the church could not do without them for they show Christ to the world.
My paternal grandmother was born in England in the late 1800s of evangelical German parents who had emigrated to England. Her father became very pious and did not allow his daughters to go to parties or to dance. The result of this was that one daughter ran away from home, never to be heard of again. My grandmother, however, trained as a nurse and set off on her own to evangelize people in South America. One stop she made was in Bolivia: she had a hair pin that was typical of what women in Bolivia used in their long hair. In her old age she lived in a flat near us, and I often looked in the two large curved and brass-bound chests in her entrance hall. They were full of heathen fetishes, masks, wooden carved utensils, a silver engraved spoon. When I was fifteen after she died, I returned from school to find them ablaze in a bonfire. I was appalled. Museums would have loved to get their hands on them. My mother was defiant. “They are heathen, devilish things,” she said. In my old age, I think she was quite right! Ill-health forced my grandmother to leave South America and go to Rhodesia to work in a mission hospital. She met my grandfather, a Scot, who was one of the Rhodesian pioneers and they were married. He was a Presbyterian and she a Baptist. She became an influential member of the Baptist Church - many of whom spoke to me about her when I stayed in Rhodesia before my marriage.
Her daughter, my aunt followed in her footsteps, became a nurse, and joined the China Inland Mission where she met her surgeon husband and served as his theatre sister for many years in very primitive conditions. My father, her son, when he retired from business, spent his last ten years as a Church of England in South Africa lay preacher, and built up a struggling, small church. My father had 3 daughters, I am the eldest, and when I married John we ministered in 2 Baptist churches: one in a dusty, new mining town for about three years, and another we started from scratch in a city. After 9 years during which John gained his D.D, we left for academia where he soon became Dean of the Faculty of Theology. My one sister trained as a nurse and became matron of a small mission hospital in an adjoining country, and later taught about Christianity at a large institution for children with physical and mental problems.
My other sister, when she saw the plight of people, and especially children after giving someone a lift to her home, gave up a lucrative position to start an NGO to care for abused children. Linked to a church, its activities have expanded dramatically. And now, one of my daughters has continued this line of keeping the faith by serving in an international missionary organization. I pray that this may continue with my grandchildren and great grandchildren.
So that is my story. I wonder what is yours?
God bless you